I wonder how Speaker of the House Paul Ryan sleeps at night. Are visions of ultra-rich-conservative sugar daddies dancing in his head? Do images of his children with questioning looks in their eyes parade before him? Does he toss and turn as he struggles to justify the gap between what he instructs them to do in their everyday moral education and how he performs as Speaker of the House? Or does he sleep soundly?
How does Speaker Ryan educate his children to be good and moral human beings who must not lie and have an allegiance to the truth and then go to work and live according to an entirely different moral code? A code that allows lies to stand unchallenged and without consequence, a code that allows fellow Republicans to perpetuate disgusting racist tropes and still receive his support? A code that allows him to harm the most vulnerable in our society with a smile?
When questioned about Trump’s tweets about non-existent voter fraud during an interview on 60 Minutes, Ryan responded this way:
“Who cares what he tweeted, you know, on some Thursday night, if we fix this country’s big problems?” “That’s just the way I look at this,” he added.
In other words, lies don’t matter. So my question to Speaker Ryan is, “What do you tell your children?” Or does your power status in Washington trump what you know to be morally correct?
It’s not just Ryan. It is all of them.
Right from wrong has no meaning. Apparently, the only question Republicans are asking themselves is, “What can I get away with and still maintain the support of my constituents?”
As “representatives” of the people, their obligation is to uphold the Constitution. In the face of a president who is demonstrably a pathological liar, who is threatening our very way of life, they have maintained a unified front, accepting his behavior and refraining from criticizing his in-your-face lies.
Scott Pruitt, the current administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, another Republican and Trump crony, said this past week that he did not believe that carbon emissions are a primary contributor to climate change. That is of course at odds with science and the previous administrations of the EPA. His claim that “it is still up for debate” is a lie. 97% of all scientists believe that man-made climate change is real. And according to CNN:
The EPA itself has said that net emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities increased by 35% from 1990 to 2010, while emissions of carbon dioxide, which account for about three-fourths of total emissions, increased by 42% over this same period.
What does Pruitt tell his children? Does he not care that the world in which they will grow and live will profoundly be impacted by what we have done, and are continuing to do, to damage our environment? The regulations that have already been rolled back by Trump’s administration will severely hurt our efforts to continue to keep our air and water clean and to clean up some of the devastation that we have already wreaked.
Maybe he doesn’t give a shit about the world his kids and their kids will live in.
Rep. Devin Nunes of California suggested that we not take Trump seriously when he tweeted out that President Obama had him wiretapped because Trump was a political neophyte… Really?
Words matter Mr. Nunes, and one should be able to expect the President of the United States to have the where-with-all to put together a coherent sentence based on facts. One should be able to count on what the President of the United States communicates even on a Twitter account. Many of us recognized that he was unfit; hence, we didn’t vote for him. Clearly, your version of fit to be president includes an inability to rely on what our commander-in-chief says.
And so I ask again, what do Republicans tell their children?
When Mom or Dad lets them know how important it is to always tell the truth, kids know there will be consequences if they don’t. Kids are not stupid. When they hear Dad excuse the president’s lying about voter fraud or when they see mom get on TV and struggle to find a coherent response to a president’s lie —they know that they aren’t telling the truth.
Mom and Dad are all. They serve as their children’s moral compass.
Kids expect to trust their parents.They want and need them to be their everything until they fall off their archetypal pedestals and become mere mortals.
But even then, they desperately want to believe in their parents’ goodness.
Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Scott Pruitt, KellyAnne Conway, Sean Spicer, and so many other Republicans who are parents, have an obligation to their children. An obligation shared by all of us who are parents—to give our children a loving, supportive upbringing that encourages them to be good human beings. Republicans and Democrats can and do, disagree about what constitutes a moral upbringing, but there is one thing almost everyone agrees on: lying is not okay. It is just as bad when one supports a liar and tries to explain a lie that is unexplainable. Maybe they think that they are actually deceiving people, and maybe Trump voters buy their hogwash. But I bet their kids don’t.